Oh geez, Barb has been a Pukey Patti this week, so we’ve had a lot of post-vomit cuddling time to read (me) and gaze absently at a paper pile of meaningless symbols while swallowing back regurgitated salmon-y flavored niblets (her). Like this:
We chose to read both of Garrison Keillor’s Good Poems books, a compilation of poems that the popular radio voice and author liked so much he read them on his show, The Writer’s Almanac. This is a great bundle of poems and extra lovable to me because I’m not real familiar with poetry and would like to be one of those people who spouts off relevant favorite poets when necessary. Shel Silverstein, though still beloved, doesn’t hold the same prestige at dinner parties as he did when I was eight. And, let me tell you, my dinner parties didn’t hold that much prestige when I was eight either because my brother was always sneaking in and sticking my teapot up his nose and also, the only fake food I had to serve was a plastic hamburger that was red in the middle until you poured hot water over it and then it turned brown. Because that’s how you cook meat, right? Hold it under the faucet?
Annnnnyway, while paging through these books in the past, I’ve found familiar authors that I already loved and discovered new ones that led me to look into more of their work. I liked the poems so much, I started taping them up around my house so that I could read some when I woke up in the morning or while I was cooking, or while I was “fartin’ around”. I even found a poem to read at our wedding. It’s called Here and you can read it there. The book is divided into 19 categories, including Lovers, Failure, Snow, and my favorite, Yellow, poems about all things yellow: lights, eggs, hair of people who claimed to kiss Elvis, etc. Adorable.
Keillor’s second collection, Good Poems for Hard Times, was helpful for Barb because the vet mentioned in front of her that she was a fatty so, on top of puking and riding in the car and getting a shot, she was also confronted with the fact that plus-size cats just aren’t accepted in this society. She had to face it: she’ll never get back down to her street cat size. It was a difficult day for her. So this second book, which is a collection of poems to read in, uh, hard times, was perfect.
This sequel is also divided into sections including Let It Spill, Whatever Happens, and Simpler Than I Could Find Words For. Have you ever had a friend that’s going through a crappy situation and you wind up Googling “what to say when a friend’s co-worker asks if she’s preggers and she’s not” or “how to comfort people who broke up with a-holes without saying what an a-hole that a-hole is in case they get back together”? Wouldn’t it be easier to be like, “Oh, I will just look in my trusty book under Simpler Than I Could Find Words For and send a genius poem to my friend.” It would be easier. I’m telling you.
I love this poem by Galway Kinnel, who I feel like I’m cosmically aligning with lately because I’ve been opening up random books to pages of his poems and reading Michelle Williams interviews that mention his name. Sooo, just those two times, but it happened in the same week so I’m counting it. Don’t judge. Here’s the poem. It’s short. Read it.
Prayer by Galway Kinnell
“Whatever happens. Whatever what is is is what I want. Only that. But that.”
That’ s like a mantra. That’s awesome.
Also, this poem, by my favorite woman ever, Grace Paley, which I put in my office for days when I would rather do anything but write: The Poet’s Occasional Alternative.
What I particulary love about these books is what Keillor (or whoever writes his book jackets) says about poetry: “Forget what you’ve learned about poetry in school (that it’s complex, opaque, a problem to be solved in 1500 words due tomorrow). Poetry is the last preserve of honest speech and the outspoken heart. It holds the cadence of common life.”
That makes me want to read poetry. It kind of made Barb want to puke again but, whatever, she’s kind of a snotty hipster cat. She only likes poems that are ironic. Look at her point at the books with sarcasm: